The Top 4 is a Trophy (Arsenal 2, Man City 2)

“I will not stop because retirement equals death.”

If you thought Wenger was already under pressure then this quote in the build up to the match caused a double-take.

The failure of the referee to spot an infringement means Wenger dodges the grim-reaper for the moment.

Mental strength is the theme of Wenger’s post-match interview.

The team was “ready for a fight”, “on the mental front it was a very strong performance.” and “for us the test was mental”. “Mentally it has a positive impact on our team”.

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This mental victory is the counter-balance for the fact that “mathematically you could say it is not good for them (City) or for us (Arsenal).”

Indeed. League tables can be frustratingly mathematical.

How tough will it be to make the top 4?

For Wenger it will be tough.

He illustrates this by quoting a young manager who has said that in England to be in the top 4 is a trophy because it is so difficult.

The stick that has been used to beat Wenger mercilessly during the 13 years since they last won the title is  effortlessly broken across his knee with this comment.

The young manager in question?

Guardiola.

Leadership communication lesson

The  Enthymeme is a logic sandwich any leader needs to get to grips with to win their arguments. It takes a belief of the audience and uses it to help convince them. If your assumption is that Guardiola is a great manager, then if he thinks a top 4 finish is a trophy, you are logically forced to recognise Wenger’s achievements.  A leader needs to find and understand the assumptions of their audience. Basing your arguments on these assumptions is the strongest way to win any argument.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guardiola and the happiest day of his life (Man City 1, Liverpool 1)

Two UEFA Champions League, three La Liga, three Bundesliga, two Copa  del Rey, two DFB-Pokal, three UEFA Super Cups and three FIFA Club World Cups.

Guardiola has had some good days.

His happiest day?

A 1-1 draw at home that marginally increases City’s chances of finishing in the top 4.

It is “one of the days in my career I am proud of the most” and the “happiest day of my life as a manager”.

Why is he so proud?

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The performance.

And his use of an ascending tricolon – a set of three terms, increasing in force – gives rhetorical weight to his assessment of the performance, “How we fight, how we run, how we put our spirit out”.

But it is the context of the performance that is everything for Pep.

“It is the conditions we play that game, out of the Champions league, Liverpool are one of the best teams and how we played them”.

Of course defeat to Monaco in mid-week had not been a happy day.

Anyone listening to a radio was invited to call in and express their doubts and reservations about Guardiola.

No qualifications, experience or insight needed to criticise one of the most successful managers in the history of the game.

Given this criticism, Pep uses this performance as an opportunity to commit himself and the team to “want to do something good in the next 2-3 years, we always play to win, to counter-attack, to respect our spectators.”

Leadership communication lesson

Every leader will face setbacks in any enterprise. One communication response it to control the narrative through your choice of time-frame. By looking to the years ahead, you can shift people’s focus from the setback – and the attendant seeking of blame – to an assumed positive future. By extending the time frame you also make any setback appear smaller in scale. It’s a smart response to a difficult communication challenge.

So so so happy (B’Mouth 0, Man City 2)

Was it for nights like these that Sheik Mansour funnelled the oil wealth of Abu Dhabi into Man City?

To shock and awe the 11,464 capacity crowd in the smallest ever Premier League stadium?

Probably not, just as you probably don’t employ Guardiola in order to “have a good battle to qualify for the Champions League”.

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Having replaced Joe Hart with the false number one that was Claudio Bravo, Aguero is perceived to be next in the firing line.

Invited to underline how important Aguero is to the team, Guardiola instead stressed “when you play in big competitions, champions league, you need all the players”.

Does Guardiola think City can win the title?

No. “The gap is too, too, big”.

The focus for City in on their own game, “Game by game to  improve our performance”.

Tonight Guardiola felt this happened and was “so so so happy with the performance”.

Leadership communication lesson

Past success buys you time and credibility as a leader. Fighting for a Champions League spot was not the expectation for City. Guardiola is drawing on credibility established elsewhere to reset these expectations. If City were to now challenge Chelsea this may be perceived to be a success. As  a leader you can reset expectations if results are poor and it can be useful tactic in managing your stakeholders, it is not however a card you want to play more than once.